There are a couple of awkward corners to negotiate as this film gets underway. Like for instance, Jennifer Lopez as Claire Peterson, high school teacher of the Classics, who goes into ecstasies at receiving a gilt-edged, first edition of the IIiad in translation. Jenny from the Block as pedagogue and lover of ancient Greek? I don’t think so.
The fact that her best pal Vicky (Kristin Chenoweth, Glee, Pushing Daisies) just does not look or act like a vice-principal will leave you disdainfully sniggering at such woeful miscasting.
Anyway, Claire is having some marital troubles and Vicky is urging her to file for divorce from husband Garrett, played by (John Corbett, Parenthood.)
Garret played away - once, it seems - at a conference in San Francisco and, influenced by the poisonous Vicky, Claire is having great difficulty forgiving him. But in her heart she wants to give the marriage a second chance.
Their son is the likeable 17-year old Kevin (Ian Nelson, The Hunger Games, The Best of Me) whose acting is so pointedly un-hammy in a hammy movie that it’s like he ambled in from some much more intelligent movie.
One day there is trouble with the automated garage door and mother and son are trying to deal with it as they prepare to take the car out. Suddenly, a muscle-bound, tanned young hunk appears and sorts out the problem in what is essentially the dynamic of an ad for cheap deodorant. This is 19-year old Noah (Ryan Guzman) who has moved into the house next door to look after his seriously infirm grand-uncle.
Claire is suitably impressed by the garage door stunt, but spends the next few days trying to figure out what she is really impressed by. She is plunged into a welter of what would be termed ‘hot flushes,’ if we were discussing a Jane Eyre costume drama. Lopez is rather good at suggesting hot flushes in this film and she wafts clouds of low-grade, but ultimately antiseptic passion.
Grease-stained Noah is bent over the engine of the car, in his torn t-shirt. Lopez looks at him through the window until he sees her, then she quickly hides. The game is on.
But the, er, bottom line is that Claire is a teacher and Noah has enrolled at her school, which is also attended by son Kevin. He looks out for Kevin who lacks confidence, and before you know it, Claire is inviting him over for dinner nights when his grand-uncle goes into hospital.
Pretty soon, he’s got the hot flushes too and one night of ill-advised passion occurs which Claire Peterson must try and keep secret. Unfortunately for her, a spiral of humiliating exposure begins to unfold that will keep you engaged, while you smugly laugh up your sleeve at the ridiculousness of her nightmare. Pure gas-guzzling escapism.